Using Clinical Design to Reduce Burnout and Retain Healthcare Staff




In May of this year, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory warning of the urgent need to address the healthcare worker burnout crisis across the country.

However, this is not alerting us to something that healthcare professionals and organizations didn’t already know. It serves as an important reminder that a major challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a critical challenge that needs to be addressed. 

In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the pandemic increased healthcare worker burnout and exhaustion, and led to workforce shortages. Additionally, we are seeing a rise in violent acts committed against healthcare professionals that is further increasing the severity of the issue. 

Just as there is no singular cause of the burnout, there is also not one simple solution. The Surgeon General cites a number of actions that should be taken, including access to mental health services, a commitment to safety, building community and social connections, and advocating for positive change.

While these are all good steps to take, it is important to not overlook the role clinical design can play in helping non-acute facilities reduce burnout and retain healthcare professionals. Especially how equipment design, workflows and technologies used in this environment can help create a more positive point of care experience for caregivers.

Here are a few examples:


  • Exam rooms configured and designed to improve standardization, enhance patient-caregiver interaction and accommodate needed equipment and supplies at the point of care. The exam room should also provide adequate space for caregivers to easily move about or remain seated to minimize unnecessary straining and increase comfort.


  • Exam chairs that are fully adjustable to prevent caregivers from having to overreach, twist or bend their back or torso too much during exams, and can lower to a height that allows patients to transfer onto and off of the chair without being lifted by a caregiver.


  • Vital signs acquisition devices that bring automation to the vital signs workflow to help ensure a higher level of standardization and minimize human variables, while also auto-connecting with a computer using zero clicks to import data directly into the EMR and eliminate manual transcription errors.


  • Cabinetry that is designed for average height healthcare workers, enabling caregivers to easily reach frequently accessed supplies without unnecessary bending, stretching or constant overreaching.


  • Mobile workstations that can support the needs of nearly all users in the clinical space, allowing them to work from an ergonomically correct position whether seated or standing as to not cause unnecessary strain on the caregiver's back, shoulder and neck.


  • Wearable locator badges equipped with a call button that helps improve worker safety by enabling healthcare workers to request immediate help and providing security officials with the worker’s name and location so they can respond in a timely manner.


As these examples illustrate, clinical design has become a strategic component at the point of care, helping healthcare organizations place staff well-being and satisfaction at the same level of importance as clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, efficiency and profitability.

Whether it’s equipment that feature ergonomic principles, technology that offers safety and less clicks or room configurations that deliver standardization and increased efficiency, the end result is a better care experience for caregivers.

For more information on how to create a better experience at the point of care for caregivers, read this Midmark white paper.